Has any drink been so defiled as the poor margarita? From the tiki bars onboard Carnival Cruises to ladies’ nights at the local TGI Friday’s, badly made margaritas are so common, the drink has become the punch line of the serious cocktail crowd—a corn syrupy, salted slush made for washing down cheddar-topped potato skins and Mexican eggrolls.
But you know what? It’s time we forget all that. Because Quentin Ertel, owner of The Saint (and Havana) has redeemed the simple Texas mixer with El Santo: a party-in-your-mouth mix of tequila—Sauza Hornitos Reposado—cointreau, orange, and a sweet and sour mix he makes from mottled citrus fruit.
Now, because El Santo costs $10, it pays to switch over, after the first round, to El Hermano, the drink Ertel calls “El Santo’s younger, cheaper brother.” He says it’s “equally delicious” to El Santo, but let’s not kid ourselves: Tequila connoisseurs will note the difference between the Sauza Gold in El Hermano and reposado. (For the uninitiated, reposado tequilas are aged in oak, becoming gold over time and developing flavor as the agave blends with the wood. A gold tequila, meanwhile, gets its coloring from added ingredients such as caramel or sugar cane.) At $5, however, El Hermano is an excellent value, and a very solid choice for taking in an evening at the lovely little Tiffany-blue bar that once housed the WingDome.